Middlebury

New bridge a shining example of town-gown partnership

December 1, 2010

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.—Gray skies, temperatures in the low 40s, and intermittent rain dampened neither turnout nor enthusiasm on the occasion of the Cross Street Bridge dedication and opening on October 30.

The celebration marked the conclusion of an 18-month construction project—and more than a half century of discussion—that has resulted in a second bridge spanning the Otter Creek in the heart of downtown Middlebury.

Financing for the $16 million project—which included not only the bridge construction, but also the creation of a roundabout on Main Street and other traffic flow improvements—was dependent on a unique and innovative partnership between the town and Middlebury College. With the town providing $7 million through local option taxes, the College contributed the remaining $9 million, allowing the project to proceed without federal and state funding (and therefore bypassing project waiting lists mandated by the state and other bureaucratic hurdles that could have delayed construction for another decade or more).

Bridge Riddim
The crowd gathered to watch Riddim dance.

The College's contribution to the bridge project extended to the day-long celebration. Various Middlebury artistic groups—the Community Chorus, the Mischords a cappella group, and the Riddim hip hop dance troupe— were among the early afternoon performers at a bandstand situated at the east end of the bridge, while a pair of Segway riders represented the institution in the parade of historical vehicles—marking time from the beginning of the 20th century to the present—that opened the official ceremony in late afternoon.

Bridge Liebowitz
President Liebowitz speaks on opening day.
Middlebury President Ronald D. Liebowitz was the second local dignitary to speak, and he pointed out that starting with the College's founding in 1800 the institution and the town have been inextricably linked. "A strong town makes for a strong College, and a strong College makes a strong town," he said. "And this bridge, and the partnership that made it happen, is a perfect example of that."

 

For more coverage of the bridge opening, visit http://www.vpr.net/news_detail/89133/.


Photography by Trent Campbell.